David Musil is delighted at the prospect of following in his father's footsteps to Edmonton.
David Musil's North American hockey career already has an interesting story behind it, though not quite as interesting as his father's. Musil was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1993 while his father Frantisek (Frank) Musil was playing for the Calgary Flames. Musil Sr. went on to play for a few other teams internationally and in the NHL before ending his professional hockey career with the Edmonton Oilers and becoming an international scout for the team. David Musil did not have to defect from a communist country, nor sneak off to North America for the 2011 NHL entry draft, but he wasn't drafted into the WHL.
David Musil wanted to play for the local WHL team the Vancouver Giants, in order to develop his hockey skills. His father approached the team, they went through the proper channels and listed young Musil, but that wasn't the end of the story. Other teams were not happy with the Giants listing Musil, so he was up for grabs in the next lottery. The Kootenay Ice won and not knowing Musil was in Canada traded with the Giants. And so began the North American junior hockey development of the younger Musil defenseman.
Though both Musil's were drafted into the NHL, they both have a extremely different memories to embrace. Frank Musil was still in what was at the time communist Czechoslovakia, and his stock in the draft had fallen due to concerns the he would ever be able to play. David Musil had been ranked slightly higher than where he was eventually selected, 31st overall, but that is more likely due to increased play and performance of other players rather than a drop in Musil's play or worth. Going into the 2011 NHL entry draft, there were still fatherly words of wisdom for his son "My dad didn't say a whole lot, he was in the Czech republic, he didn't even really know he was drafted. He didn't tell me a whole lot about his draft. He just said go out and enjoy it."
Enjoy it David Musil did. He could not seem to stop smiling or stay still enough for a good photo early on in his media address. It was interesting that Musil was drafted in the same city that his father left for North America to play in. So, it was also interesting that Musil would be drafted by the team that his father currently works for. "I'm really happy that I'm going to Edmonton. It's going to be a really good experience and I'm really looking forward to it." Musil is looking forward to his experience so much so that all he could say was how soon he wants to be in the NHL, "I'm going to try my best. I'm getting ready this summer. I'm going to try my best to get into the NHL as soon as possible." Those are good ambitions for any player on their draft day.
In order to reach the NHL, Musil does feel that he needs to make some improvements to his game. "I need to improve on a lot of stuff if I want to play in the NHL. I need to get bigger, strong, faster. I need to improve on all sorts of stuff, so I'm working on that over the summer." Most likely, Musil will play junior for a little longer, especially since he does not meet the age requirement to play for the Edmonton Oilers' farm team, the Oklahoma City Barons.
Musil had been playing and living in the Czech republic prior to playing in the WHL, and received a lot of family emotional and professional developmental support from his family. Not only did his father play professional hockey, but his mother was a professional tennis player. Did Musil receive any athleticism from his mother? "For sure I got a little bit. She was a good tennis player." Musil may also be a good tennis player, much the same way that Keegan Lowe is a good skier. "Yes, I play tennis until I was 15 years old. Then I started concentrating more on hockey. I still enjoy playing tennis in the summer... Can't beat my mom, just my dad." Musil also has an uncle and grandfather who played professional hockey. Uncle Bobby Holík played in the NHL and grandfather Jaroslav Holík played for what was Czechoslovakia. Despite all of the family connections, David still turns to his father a lot. "It helped me a lot, he's got a lot of experience. Whenever I need help I know that I can turn around not only to him, but also to my unlce and grandpa who also are hockey players. My whole family, we're all sports, so anyone can help."
On any comparison of game style and play with his father, David says "I'm probably going to be a little bit different. Right now I like to watch him and talk to him so he helps me a lot. For sure I would like to get a little bit of dad in me as well because that will help me too in my NHL career."
"I remember watching my dad playing a couple of games, going in the dressing room," Though Musil admits that he has been told by his father that the new Oilers dressing room is nothing like the old one, "I remember still the old dressing room." I'm sure that David Musil's memories of Rexall place will be from playing there as the Giants, and less from his visits with his father at the arena, even towards the end of Frank Musil's career in 2001 when David would have been eight.
Playing in Vancouver "It helped me a lot. I always heard that the junior leagues in Canada are the best in the world. I knew that if I wanted to play in the NHL one day it would be the best choice for me. I didn't know, I thought that. So I decided to come to Canada. That's what I did and it helped me a lot." Despite feeling that playing in Vancouver would be the best career move he could make, it's not clear that Musil would know how difficult playing for Don Hay, head coach of the Vancouver Giants might be. The Giants are big hockey in a big market, they demand excellence of their players and a commitment to the team and the game. "He's a great coach and I really enjoyed playing underneath him. A lot of great players played underneath him so I'm sure I learned a lot from him." Musil decided that in was North American junior hockey for him because "In Europe it's a different type of hockey so that's what I learned in Vancouver too. The hockey there is not that physical."
Despite being ranked to be selected late in the first round, or early in the second round, when Musil went back to his hotel room Friday night. I didn't really get a good sleep, I had a little higher expectations. I'm really excited about going to Edmonton. It's going to be really cool; my dad played there. I'm really looking forward to that." I asked him if he had thoughts that he would be going to Edmonton when he arrived at the Xcel Center Saturday morning, he said he could only think about being selected, not so much where.
The NHL story for both Musils will also be different. To supplement his income while playing for the Calgary Flames, David Musil also worked at a meat packing plant. David Musil laughed and said his father had told him stories of his jobs. Musil did not follow these footsteps in the Czech Republic, "No I never worked. In Czech it's a little bit different, you can't get a job until you are 18. I never really got a chance to work." With salaries in the NHL and even the AHL in this current market, Musil should not have to look for work in the same placed his father did, or even by striking out on his own in the construction industry.
When I asked whether or not Musil had received or would receive a phone call from fellow Czech and current Oiler Ales Hemsky, Musil said "Not yet, but that would be pretty cool." There is no lack of friendly faces awaiting young Musil in Edmonton, ready to help him make his NHL dreams come true.